Indonesian food taken to another level may be what Kaum Jakarta is all about. Food activist Lisa Virgiano, who is also the Brand Director of Potato Head Family, worked hand in hand with the group’s Executive Chef Antoine Audran to create a highly commendable menu of authentic Indonesian cuisine.
The team behind Kaum went on an exotic culinary expedition, traveling across the archipelago to learn about indigenous cooking methods, ingredients and flavours of Indonesia’s tribal communities. In doing so, the team engaged with many ethnic tribes and responsible small-scale farmers and producers around the country. Those interactions were then translated into the menu and ambience at Kaum.
Kaum Jakarta is the third outlet of the brand, following in the footsteps of Kaum Hong Kong – where it was recently included in the 2017 Michelin Guide Hong Kong & Macau – and Kaum Bali.
Located in a restored colonial house in Menteng, Central Jakarta, Kaum Jakarta is homey yet modern. Look around and you’ll see vintage furniture and colourful kiln-fired ceramic tiles, also known as tegel Jawa. In the main dining hall, the interior design concept reflects the craftsmanship and traditions of Indonesia’s ethnic tribes. A big panel inspired by Dayak motifs hanging on the wall can’t be missed. In this carefully thought out environment, even waiting is a formidable act, as guests can look into the open kitchen where the chefs are busy working.
The first dish I tried was Pepes Aneka Jamur. My appetite was immediately aroused at the smell of grilled banana leaves. The dish used four kinds of mushrooms – shiitake, straw, oyster and ear mushrooms – spiced with Indonesian basil and grated coconut. “Our Pepes Aneka Jamur is cooked West Javanese-style, in which using grated coconut is a characteristic,” Virgiano eagerly explained to me.
Another must-have West Javanese item here is the popular Sate Maranggi Purwakarta – think chargrilled wagyu beef marinated with ginger, garlic, galangal and crushed pepper.
Dining at Kaum Jakarta is akin to traveling the archipelago and tasting the food in each region. Some of the most recommended items here are Mie Gomak (North Sumatra), wok-fried noodles with shredded grilled chicken, Andaliman pepper, fresh curry leaves and coconut milk sauce; Gohu Ikan Tuna (Maluku), fresh tuna marinated in coconut oil, calamansi juice and fresh bilimbi, served with kenari (Java almond) and ginseng leaves; Ayam Berantakan (Aceh), pan-fried chicken topped with spicy toasted coconut flakes, fried garlic slivers, fried curry leaves, fried oyster mushrooms and red chillies.
End your meal on a sweet note by trying Klappertaart (North Sulawesi), translated as coconut bread and fermented cassava pudding served with caramel sauce, or the all-time favourite Kue Lumpur Bubur Ketan Hitam (Java).
If you are keen on finely crafted cocktails and other beverages, Kaum Jakarta also offers a wide selection of drinks.